Contemplation of Chenonceau evokes the idea of a perfect harmony between nature, composed of water, air, greenery and unique architecture, recognized around the world. The castle offers its "guests for a day," who come from five continents, an invitation to grace, as they surrender to the pleasantness and beauty of the place ... Chenonceau unleashed the passions of its owners, all of whom were caught up in the vortex of the History of France.
A royal residence, it is also exceptional for its singular destiny: built, loved, administered and protected by remarkable women. Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II, offered Chenonceau some of the most spectacular gardens of the time and its unique architecture, providing it with the famous bridge, which crosses the Cher. Catherine de Medici, widow of the king, displaced Diane and brought to the castle its two-story gallery, where she organized lavish parties during her regency.
On the death of her husband Henry III, Louise de Lorraine mourned in white, as was the custom, and devoted herself to prayer. His death marked the end of royal history at Chenonceau. The exquisite representative of the Enlightenment, Louise Dupin, held a brilliant salon, surrounding herself with philosophers such as Montesquieu, Voltaire and Rousseau. She preserved Chenonceau during the Revolution. A member of the industrial bourgeoisie, Marguerite Pelouze decided to turn the monument and its park into the theater of her success. She spent a fortune on its restoration, eventually depleting her finances. Simone Menier, matron-in-charge, administered the hospital set up at the expense of her family, in the castle's galleries.
More than 2,000 war wounded were treated there, until 1918.
Chenonceau reveals its hidden treasures: The Medici Gallery, located on the 1st floor of the building, is a place to enrich one's knowledge of history thanks to a unique collection of works of art, paintings, tapestries, furniture and objects.
This room belonged to King Henry II's favorite mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to whom offered Chenonceau as a gift. In 1559, on the death of Henry II, killed in single combat in a tournament by the captain of his Scottish guard, Gabriel Montgomery, his widow Queen Catherine de Medici, had Diane return Château de Chenonceau to her, and gave her Chaumont-sur-Loire in exchange.
On the mantelpiece: Portrait of Catherine de Medici by Sauvage To the right of the fireplace: Madonna and Child by Murillo
Madonna and Child by Murillo
Catherine de Medici (1519 - 1589).
Widow of Henry II, Catherine de Medici sent Diane away and continued to embellish gardens and continue the architectural work. She erected the two-story gallery to organize lavish parties. Regent, Catherine managed her kingdom from the green study, brought Italian opulence to Chenonceau and established the authority of the young king.
Catherine de Medici's room is crowned by a wooden coffered ceiling that is painted and gilded. The compartments contain many initials. It includes the coat of arms of the Medici and the center position "C" and "H" for Catherine and Henri II intertwined.
To the right of the bed, a painting on by Correggio represents the Education of love.
A version painted on canvas hangs in London's National Gallery.
The Francis I Salon is full of masterpieces.
On the wall, a portrait of Diane de Poitiers as Diana the Huntress by Primaticcio, painter of the School of Fontainebleau. The picture was painted at Chenonceau in 1556; its frame bears the arms of Diane de Poitiers, Duchess of Etampes.
The Three Graces by Van Loo
To the right of the fireplace, The Three Graces by Van Loo represent the ladies of Nesle: Ladies Chateauroux, Ventimiglia, Mailly, three sisters, successive favorites of King Louis XV.
Study of Catherine de Medici who became regent of the kingdom upon the death of her husband King Henry II. She governed France from this room.
On the walls, a collection of paintings of which the most important are:
- Tintoretto: The Queen of Sheba and Portrait of a Doge. - Jordaens: The Drunken Silenus - Golsius: Samson and the Lion - Ribera: Three Bishops - Jouvenet: Jesus Chasing the Merchants from the Temple - Spranger: Allegorical Scene Painted on Metal - Veronese: Study of a Woman's Head - Poussin: The Flight into Egypt - Van Dyck: Amour au singe
Solomon and the Queen of Sheba by Tintoretto
In this small room that was her study, Catherine de Medici placed her desk. We discover a beautiful view on the Cher, the island and the Garden of Diana.
Above the door:
- Sarto: Holy Family
And each side:
- Bassano: Scenes from the Life of St. Benedict
- Correggio: A Martyrdom
- Jouvenet: Héliodore
- Poussin: Kidnapping of Hebe, Kidnapping of Ganymede, the Cupbearers of the Gods, called to Olympus
This room evokes the memory of Gabrielle d'Estrées, a favorite and great love of King Henry IV and mother of his legitimate son Caesar de Vendôme.
Above the door, a painting by Ribalta: Child with a Lamb.
This room is named in memory of the two daughters and three stepdaughters of Catherine de Medici. Her daughters, Queen Margot (wife of Henry IV), Elisabeth of France (wife of Philip II of Spain), her step-daughters: Mary Stuart (wife of Francis II) Elisabeth of Austria (wife of Charles IX) and Louise de Lorraine (wife of Henry III).
Peter Paul RUBENS (1577-1640)
Adoration of the Magi, bought for the King of Spain, is among the works hanging in the Prado Museum.
This piece recalls the memory of Caesar, Duke of Vendôme, son of King Henry IV and
Gabrielle d'Estrées, uncle of Louis XIV, who became the owner of Chenonceau in 1624.
To the left of the window, framed by two carved wooden caryatids from the XVIIth, a painting by Murillo: Portrait of Saint Joseph.
Le Cabinet des EstampesCastle of Chenonceau
The Catherine de Medici room provides access to two small rooms that make up the print room.
The first room showcases a magnificent ceiling decorated with a painted canvas and elegant fireplace, a legacy of Madam Dupin's decorating in Chenonceau in the XVIIIth century.
In the second room opening onto the Cher, the ceiling and fireplace are from the Renaissance.
The study contains a complete and varied collection of drawings, engravings and prints representing the castle at different periods. From Diane de Poitier's XVIth century,
Poitiers, with a sanguine (first document on which the bridge appears) to the watercolours of the XIXth century architects, the main stages of Chenonceau's construction can be followed along with the changes in projects by different owners, and also the development of gardens.
Le Salon Louis XIVCastle of Chenonceau
Louis XIV Salon. In memory of his visit at Chenonceau on July 14, 1650, Louis XIV offered much later, to his uncle the Duke of Vendôme, his portrait by Rigaud - with an extraordinary frame by Lepautre, consisting of four huge pieces of wood - and furniture covered in Aubusson tapestries and a console by the famous cabinetmaker Boulle.
Portrait of Madam Dupin, by Nattier
Louise Dupin (1706 - 1799), great-grandmother-in-law of George Sand, was the owner of Chenonceau in the XVIIIth century. Patron of Encyclopedists, she received Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Diderot, D'Alembert, Fontenelle and Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. Her kindness, generosity and intelligence spared Chenonceau from destruction during the French Revolution.
La Princesse de Rohan by NattierCastle of Chenonceau
The Princess of Rohan, by Nattier.
L'enfant JésusCastle of Chenonceau
The Christ Child and Saint John the Baptist by Rubens, purchased by Joseph Bonaparte, his brother Napoleon 1st made him King of Spain.
In the chapel of the castle, a painting by Il Sassoferrato: The Virgin with a Blue Veil
Masterpiece of the Renaissance, directly inspired by the Ponte Vecchio
Château de Chenonceau.